After much suspense, the Sacramento Kings are finally officially playoff-bound following a 120-80 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. This is no small feat, as the last time the Kings played in the postseason (2006), their All-Star duo of Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox were just nine and eight years old, respectively. Just to make Kings fans feel even older, the youngest player in the NBA today – Jalen Duren – hadn’t yet turned two during Sacramento’s first round defeat to the San Antonio Spurs 17 years ago.
To put into even greater perspective just how long ago Kings fans tasted postseason action, the last player to put some playoff points on the board for the franchise that recently just snapped the longest current postseason drought in major North American sports leagues was Vitaly Potapenko, a 6’10 center who respectably managed to carve a 10-year NBA career for himself.
Vitaly Potapenko, a rarely-utilized big man, is not a Kings legend by any stretch of the imagination; he spent just two seasons with the franchise, splitting time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Seattle Supersonics for his career.
One might wonder what a backup big man was doing on the court in a close-out game, with the Kings on the ropes in Game 6. Alas, with two minutes to go and the Kings down by 18, then-head coach Rick Adelman decided to pull Mike Bibby, Ron Artest, Kevin Martin, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and Bonzi Wells from the game.
The Kings ended up losing by 22, 105-83; little did they know that it would take almost two decades before they made the postseason once again.
Of course, Kings fans will be entering the 2023 postseason full of high hopes, given how the Beam Team has defied expectations throughout th 2022-23 campaign. This is especially the case relative to their most recent playoff appearance; in 2006, they were only the eighth seed, having won just 44 regular season games.
In a few weeks’ time, the Kings should have homecourt advantage in the first round, which should cause significant uproar for the most ardent believers of the beam that have yearned for any kind of success for so long.
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